The donated pallets came from a metal working plant and are constructed of heavy, oak boards whose strength is required to hold up under the extreme weight of the sheets of finished metal. The tin was repurposed from an old building which had been torn down a few years ago. We purchased a large lot of this material from one of our market managers four years ago and have used it in poultry and rabbit housing. While these pieces are no longer suitable for roofing, they are durable, weatherproof and therefore ideal in this application. The tin is screwed into the individual pallets which are attached by wire to the t-posts on the western side, providing the perfect wind break. The tarp roofs are dog kennel covers purchased a few years ago and are multi-purpose, lightweight, sturdy and easily moved. These in particular had most recently provided cover for the holiday turkeys. Because of the extreme temperatures, we added a fresh straw bale for the pigs to snuggle down in. This entire design is completely portable and will be moved each time the pigs are rotated to fresh pasture. It can easily be extended to any length and the open design helps assure each animal has access when desired.
Our pigs are fully pastured, year round. Just what do we mean by that statement?
While we provide shelters for our pigs year round, they are completely free to utilize them when they choose and as they see fit. When not lounging inside, they are out on the grass or romping through the woodlands, enjoying the sunshine and breathing fresh air. They root, graze, doze, play in the mud and eat lots of good foods while living in a peaceful, natural setting. They are surrounded by neighbors which at any time may include birds from our various flocks, the cows, goats or even our pony. In fact, the pregnant pigs which are using the featured shelter currently share fence lines with turkeys, goats, more pigs and even broiler chickens! We are truly an integrated farm.
While not pets (we do not encourage pigs being treated in this manner as we do not believe it is in the best interest of the animal or the safety of the owner), they are treated with the utmost of respect and care. They are very intelligent and curious, examining everything within reach of their snouts. They love to smell our hand and will actively 'oink' and grunt at us anytime we are close by. Our pigs live in social groups and are free to grow and thrive in all of their pastured 'pigginess'. This intense attention to detail and the natural, living arrangements result in extremely healthy animals and a superior product for our market tables. That's just the way we like it!
Thanks to all those who took their time to donate the pallets. Your efforts have already prevented another wasted load in the landfill and have enabled the construction of this shelter in addition to larger rabbit hutches for weaning the young ones (more info on this in an upcoming post). We also have plans to built more portable, kidding sheds for the goats which are due in a few weeks.
Recycle, repurpose, reuse. Doing so not only benefits the environment but also the farmers, their animals and consumers alike. Yes, it really is that important. And of course, our pigs thank you!